Have you ever found a strain that you just love from a grower, but the next time you buy it the look or high is different from what you remember? You may be asking yourself if you are crazy or if you have been smoking too much, but rest assured you are sane. There is a simple explanation for this. Just like how two siblings from the same parents can have completely opposite personalities, cannabis plants can behave in a similar fashion. It is possible for multiple seeds or cuttings of the same strain to have different types of grow structures and highs. There are two main factors that contribute to how a cannabis plant will grow and finish out and that is its genotype and phenotype.
Genotype is the pre-set range of possibilities in which a plant is able to grow. This is determined by its genetic code, or DNA. The genotype is a list of possible traits the plant is able to acquire when it is grown. The color, smell, shape, resin production, cannabinoid content, flavor, and high of the plant each have its own range of possibilities for the end result. What that result turns out to be is determined by the factors in the environment that the cannabis plant is grown in such as temperature, light intensity, humidity, and air flow.
The phenotype of a plant is the list of physical characteristics that are pulled out from the environment. Many growers do the best that they can to keep consistency from batch to batch and that is the easiest to do with indoor grows. Being in such a controlled environment it is easy to replicate close to the same result time and time again. Any change in the type of lighting, nutrients, soil, humidity, or temperature and it is possible for the phenotype to change. This is why your favorite strain can be different from how you remember it, even if it is from the same grower. Growers are often changing grow methods to get the best results possible.
Starting from Seeds
When you grow cannabis from seeds, the genotypes can be very different. Like the one black sheep in the family, sometimes when growing from seeds you get that one variant that is very unique. Growers will often grow anywhere from a few to twenty or more seeds at a time of the same strain. This way they can find the best plant with the best traits to grow.
For example take this new strain Swagga Jakka grown by Conscious Cannabis, also known as the brands Honey Tree and Bodhi High. They have 8 phenotypes of this strain currently! If you look at the above photo the closest row is all Swagga Jakka. You can see that the plants are different sizes and shades.
Mother Plants and Clones
Once they find the plant they favor the most, growers will save the plant and will not flower it out to save it as a “mother plant”. Mother plants are cannabis plants that are grown with the purpose of taking cuttings off for clones.
These clones will grow into new cannabis plants with the same genotype. And as long as the grower can replicate the growing conditions or better, you can produce the same high quality cannabis over and over again. When you see a strain like GG#4, this means when the grower grew from seed, he picked the forth seed out of however many to replicate.
What else is fun is you can give the same clones to multiple growers and the results can vary as well. Cannabis is an exciting plant with unlimited possibilities between phenotypes, genotypes, and cross breeding strains. New strains to chill with will always be right around the corner.